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Jhalak Prize: Longlist features big, beautiful and emerging…

Jhalak Prize: Longlist features big, beautiful and emerging…

Only in its second year, this prize has gathered considerable excitement and attention…

JUDGES behind Britain’s only literary prize dedicated to highlighting books by writers from diverse backgrounds, announced their longlist yesterday.

The Jhalak Prize longlist is a mix of titles that crosses genres, and is made up of the well-established – Nadeem Aslam – ‘The Golden Legend’, non-fiction writers and first time novelists too.

Among the debutant novelists is Preti Taneja’s’We That Are Young’.

The 500-plus book, which is inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ has a fabulously wealthy Indian family at the heart of it, and three daughters who stand to benefit as heirs to a wily, old patriarch, but events conspire to create chaos, distrust and suspicion.

The book is a coruscating examination of modern India and its unique set of challenges as the old and new clash and divisions and alliances both emerge and disintegrate.

Taneja’s debut novel was the subject of a pre-launch preview organised by and with Waterstones in Piccadilly, in London, and has gone onto garner worldwide praise since its original publication in the UK in the late summer. See the video below

Among the 12, is Chinese-born Xialou Gou, whose new work is ‘Once Upon A Time in the East’. The book, a memoir of her experiences of settling in China from Britain, as a 30-something who knew little about the place she had arrived in, was published just a few days ago. Her first novel, ‘A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers’ proved a big success in 2007.

The Jhalak Prize was created last year to promote writing and writers from more diverse backgrounds (than normally recognised by the country’s other long established literary awards).

Jacob Ross won the inaugural Jhalak Prize for his Caribbean crime thriller, ‘The Bone Readers’. The prize carries a £1,000 cash award.

Sunny Singh, writer and academic, and novelist and activist Nikesh Shukla were among a small handful of people to create the Jhalak Prize.

She said of this year’s longlist: “The last few months have been an incredible journey through beautifully crafted, intellectually challenging and emotionally rich books.

“The longlist demonstrates the extraordinary range of themes, ideas and forms from British writers of colour.

“We have whittled down our favourites to 12 books for the longlist with much difficulty and am not sure how we will ever arrive at a shortlist, far less a winner.”

This year an all-women panel of judges will pick the winner. It compromises Singh, Catherine Johnson, a familiar name to those in Young Adult fiction, novelist Tanya Byrne, writer and performer Vera Chok and travel writer and journalist Noo Saro-Wiwa.

Vera Chok commented: “An incredible thing about the Jhalak Prize is that it’s open across genres.

“I’ve been especially delighted to discover writers of colour beyond literary fiction and memoir, making their mark in the fields of non-fiction, children’s writing, and experimental forms.”

Below are the 12 in the longlist. A shortlist will be announced on February 20 and the winner will be announced on March 15.

John Agard, ‘Come All You Little Persons’ (Faber)
Nadeem Aslam, ‘The Golden Legend’ (Faber)
Jeffrey Boakye, ‘Hold Tight: Black Masculinity, Millennials and the Meaning of Grime’ (Influx Press)
Sita Brahmachari, ‘Worry Angels’ (Barrington Stoke)
Kayo Chongonyi, ‘Kumakanda’ (Chatto & Windus)
Yrsa Daley-Ward, ‘Bone’ (Penguin)
Reni Eddo-Lodge, ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ (Bloomsbury Circus)
Xialou Guo, ‘Once Upon a Time in the East’ (Chatto & Windus)
Meena Kandasamy, ‘When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife’ (Atlantic Books)
Kiran Millwood Hargrave, ‘The Island at the End of Everything’ (Chicken House)
Leone Ross, ‘Come Let Us Sing Anyway’ (Peepal Tree Press)
Preti Taneja, ‘We That Are Young’ (Galley Beggar Press)

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture